MEDICAL ANSWERING SERVICES, LLC. NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES GUARDING PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION
Effective Date: May 2018
THIS NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN ACCESS THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW CAREFULLY.
MAS values you as a customer, and protection of your privacy is very important to us. In conducting our business, we will create and maintain records that contain protected health information (PHI) about you and the healthcare services provided to you.
PHI is information about you—including individually identifiable information about where you live—that can reasonably be used to identify you, and which relates to your past, present or future physical or mental health or condition; the provisioning of healthcare to you; or the payment for that care.
This Notice of Privacy Practices takes effect on May 1, 2018 and will remain in effect until we replace or modify it.
1. This Notice of Privacy Practices describes our privacy practices, which include how we may use, disclose, collect, handle, and protect your PHI. We are required by certain federal and state laws to maintain the privacy of your PHI. We are also required by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule to give you this Notice about our privacy practices, our legal duties, and your rights concerning your PHI.
We protect your privacy by taking the following precautions:
1. You may request a copy of our Notice of Privacy Practices at any time. It is your right and our duty to deliver a copy of the Notice to you on the very first opportunity we provide healthcare services to you.
1. The terms of our Notice of Privacy Practices apply to all records created or retained by us that contain your PHI. We reserve the right to revise or amend the terms of this Notice. A revised or amended Notice will be effective for the entire PHI that we already have about you as well as for any PHI we may create or receive in the future. We are required by law to comply with whatever privacy notice is currently in effect. You will be notified of any material change to our privacy notice before the change becomes effective.
1. The HIPAA Privacy Rule generally does not pre-empt (or take precedence over) state privacy or other applicable laws that provide individuals greater privacy protections. As a result, to the extent state law applies, the privacy laws of a state or other federal laws rather than the HIPAA Privacy Rule might impose a privacy standard under which we will be required to operate. For example, where such laws have been enacted, we will follow the more stringent state privacy laws that relate to uses and disclosures of PHI concerning HIV, AIDS, mental health, substance abuse, chemical dependency, genetic testing, and reproductive rights.
1. We are permitted to use and disclose your PHI to provide treatment to you, to be paid or request payment for our services, and to conduct healthcare operations. This section of our Notice of Privacy Practices discusses each of these types of uses and disclosures of PHI:
Uses and Disclosures Required by Law
1. As described below, we may use or disclose your PHI under the requirements of law without an authorization from you:
Disclosures about Victims of Abuse, Neglect, or Domestic Violence
1. We may disclose PHI about an individual who is reasonably believed to be a victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence to a government authority, including a social service or protective services agency authorized by law to receive such reports. The disclosure will be bound by the following restrictions:
Disclosures for Health Oversight Activities
1. We may disclose PHI to a health oversight agency for oversight activities authorized by law—including audits; civil, administrative and criminal investigations; inspections, licensure and disciplinary actions; civil, administrative and criminal proceedings; and actions or other activities necessary for appropriate oversight of the following:
Disclosures for Judicial and Administrative Proceedings
1. We may disclose PHI for the purposes of judicial and administrative proceedings in response to an order of a court or an administrative tribunal.
Disclosures for Law Enforcement Purposes
1. We may disclose PHI for a law enforcement purpose to a law enforcement official under the following conditions:
We may disclose PHI in response to a law enforcement official’s request for such information for identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person. The information disclosure will be restricted to name and address; date and place of birth; SSN; blood type and RH factor; type of injury sustained; date and time of treatment; date and time of death (if applicable); and physical description of the individual.
For the stated purpose of identification or location, MAS may not disclose an individual’s DNA analysis and dental records as well as samples of body fluids and tissue.
We may disclose PHI in response to a law enforcement official’s request for such information about an individual who is or is suspected to be a victim of a crime—provided the individual agrees to such disclosure. In case the individual is incapacitated or under emergency circumstances, and if the disclosure is legally compelling with no intent to use against the individual, the disclosure shall be made.
We may disclose PHI about an individual who has died to a law enforcement official for alerting law enforcement of the death of the individual if there is a suspicion that such death may have resulted from criminal conduct.
We may disclose to a law enforcement official PHI if it is believed in good faith that the information constitutes evidence of criminal conduct that occurred on the premises of MAS.
MAS, during a medical emergency, shall disclose PHI to a law enforcement officer if the individual is suspected to be a victim of crime or violence.
Uses and Disclosures about Decedents
1. We may disclose PHI to a coroner or medical examiner for identifying a deceased person, determining cause of death, or other duties as authorized by law.
Uses and Disclosures for Cadaveric Organ Donations
1. For facilitating donation and transplantation, we may disclose PHI to organ procurement organizations or other entities engaged in the procurement, banking, or transplantation of cadaveric organs, eyes, or tissue.
Uses and Disclosures for Research Purposes
1. We may disclose PHI for research—regardless of the source of funding of the research—under the following conditions:
Uses and Disclosures to Avert a Threat to Health or Safety
1. We may—consistent with law and in good faith—disclose PHI to avert a serious threat to health or safety under the following conditions:
Disclosures for Workers’ Compensation
1. We may disclose PHI as authorized by, and to the extent necessary to comply with, laws relating to worker’s compensation or other similar programs established by law that provide benefits for work-related injuries or illness without regard to fault.
Disclosure of Psychotherapy Notes
1. We shall obtain an authorization for any use or disclosure of psychotherapy notes, except under the following conditions:
Disclosure of PHI for Marketing Purposes
1. We shall obtain an authorization for any use or disclosure of PHI for marketing, except if the communication occurs in the form of one of the following:
1. An authorization to disclose PHI shall be communicated in plain language and contain the following elements:
Conditioning of Authorizations
1. We shall not condition the provisioning of treatment, payment, enrolment in the health plan, and eligibility for benefits to an individual based on the provisioning of an authorization, except under the following conditions:
You have the following rights regarding the PHI we maintain about you. Requests to exercise your rights must be in writing.
Right to Access Your PHI
You have the right to inspect or receive copies of your PHI contained in a designated record set. Generally, a “designated record set” contains medical, enrolment, claims and billing records we may have about you as well as other records we may use to make decisions about your healthcare benefits. However, you may not inspect or copy psychotherapy notes or certain other information that may be contained in a designated record set.
Right to Copy
You may request that we provide copies of your PHI in a format other than photocopies. We will use the format you request unless we cannot practicably do so. We may charge a reasonable fee for copies of PHI (based on our costs), for postage, and for a custom summary or explanation of PHI. You will receive notification of any fee(s) to be charged before we release your PHI, and you will have the opportunity to modify your request in order to avoid and/or reduce the fee. In certain situations, we may deny your request for access to your PHI. If we do, we will tell you our reasons in writing and explain your right to have the denial reviewed. If you seek a review, a licensed healthcare provider chosen by us will review your request and the denial. The person conducting the review will not be the person who originally denied your request. We shall comply with the outcome of the review.
Right to Request an Amendment to PHI
You have the right to request that we amend your PHI if you believe there is a mistake in your PHI or that important information is missing. To request an amendment to your PHI, your request must be made in writing. In addition, you must provide a reason that supports your request. We will generally decide regarding your request for amendment no later than 60 days after receipt of your request. However, if we are unable to act on the request within this time, we may extend the time for 30 more days but shall provide you with a written notice of the reason for the delay and the approximate time for completion. If we deny your requested amendment, we will provide you with a written denial. Approved amendments made to your PHI will also be sent to those who need to know. We may also deny your request if, for instance, we did not create the information you want amended. If we deny your request to amend your PHI, we will tell you our reasons in writing and explain your right to file a written statement of disagreement.
Right to an Accounting of Certain Disclosures
1.You may request, in writing, that we tell you when we or our Business Associates have disclosed your PHI (referred to as an “Accounting”). Any accounting of disclosures will not include those we made under these conditions:
To request an accounting of such disclosures, your request must be submitted in writing. Your request must also state a time period, which may not be longer than six (6) years. Your request should also specify the format in which you prefer to receive the accounting, i.e. paper or electronic. We may charge you for the costs of providing the accounting. We will notify you of the costs involved, and you may choose to withdraw or modify your request at that time before any costs are incurred.
Right to Request Restrictions
You have the right to request, in writing, that we place additional restrictions on our use or disclosure of your PHI. We are not required to agree to your request. However, if we do agree, we will be bound by our agreement—except when required by law, in emergencies, or when information is necessary to treat you. An approved restriction continues until you revoke it in writing or until we tell you we are terminating our agreement to a restriction.
Right to Request Confidential Communications
You have the right to request, in writing, that we use alternate means or an alternative location to communicate with you in confidence about your PHI. For instance, you may ask that we contact you by mail rather than by telephone, or at work rather than at home. Your written request must clearly state that the disclosure of all or part of your PHI at your current address or that the method of contact we have on record could be an endangerment to you. We will require that you provide a reasonable alternate address or other method of contact for the confidential communications. In assessing reasonableness, we will consider our ability to continue to receive payment and conduct healthcare operations effectively along with the subscriber’s right to payment information. We may exclude certain communications that are commonly provided to all members from confidential communications. Examples of such communications include benefit booklets and newsletters.
Right to a Paper Copy of This Notice
You have the right to receive a paper copy of our Notice of Privacy Practices. You can request a copy at any time, even if you have agreed to receive this Notice electronically.
Right to File a Privacy Complaint
If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, or if you are dissatisfied with our privacy practices or procedures, you may file a complaint with MAS’s Privacy Office and/or with the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. MAS assures you that filing a complaint will not in any way impact the services we provide to you, nor will there be any retaliatory acts against you.
1. If you feel the need to interact with us on any issues related to this Notice or to file a privacy complaint with us, you may contact the Privacy Officer as follows:
Title: Privacy Officer